Copyright 2014 James Marsh
Hatches and Trout Flies for the Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River
It has been generally thought over the years that this stream's steep decline has kept the
population of aquatic insects lower than it is in most streams. It is also contributed to the
streams low pH which is supposed to be lower than most other streams in the park. Porters
Creek is supposed to have a very low pH. We have not taken pH reading on the stream and
cannot verify that but we do know the insect population is not greatly different from any of
the other typical streams. Most of its aquatic insects are clingers and the stream may have
more clingers than some other streams in the park, but that is the only minor difference we
have noticed. It doesn't have a very good population of crawler mayflies and it is almost void
of net-spinning caddisflies but this isn't that different from many other streams in the park.
The first insects to hatch are the little Winter Stoneflies. We have seen plenty of these along
the banks. They start crawling out of the water to hatch in January and continue through
March. About the time these stop hatching you will see the Little Brown Stoneflies start to
hatch. They will last until the end of April.
Blue-winged Olive are the most consistent hatch throughout the year in the Smokies but
they are not very plentiful in the Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River. You will start to see
some hatches about the middle of February and they will continue off and on throughout the
entire year. These include the baetis species along with the Eastern BWOs, Little BWOs and
Small BWOs consisting of about 15 different species, some of which are bi-brooded.
The little Blue Quills will start to hatch about the middle of February and last into the first of
April. They are usually very large hatches that are very consistent. About the same time you
will begin to see the Quill Gordons. They hatch until as late as the first week of April in the
Mid February will also bring about one of the largest caddisfly hatches of the year - the Little
Black Caddis or Brachcentrus species. This hatch is always very consistent.
The Hendricksons start hatching near the last week of March. They are short lived, hatching
for only about a month to six weeks at the most. There are very few in this stream.
Around the middle of April, March Browns will begin to hatch. These mayflies are very
plentiful in the Middle Prong of Little Pigeon River but they hatch inconsistently until around
the first week of June. Much more consistent are the Light Cahills. They start about a week
or two after the March Browns and last as long as a month, depending on the elevation.
There are only a very few Eastern Pale Evening Duns and Sulphurs.
The middle of April will bring about a hatch of the Short-horned Sedges. These are very
small black caddisflies that are quite abundant. About the same time you should notice the
first hatches of the Green Sedges. They hatch everywhere there is fast water for over two
months but never in large quantities.
The first of May the Giant Black Stoneflies will start hatching. These hatch at night and
deposit their eggs at night. Nymphs work well in the late afternoons. The Little Yellow
Stoneflies, called Yellow Sallies and one of this stream's best hatches. They start around the
first of May and last until mid July. Another hatch also called Yellow Sallies, but different
species, starts again about September and last for about six weeks. Golden Stoneflies start
hatching around the first of June and last about five weeks. The Little Green Stoneflies start
about the last week of May and last until July.
The last week of June through the month of August you will find some Cream Cahills. These
are sparse but important at that time of year. By the middle of August hatches of Little Yellow
Quills will start to occur mostly in the higher elevations. This is a very good hatch that last
until the end of October. By the middle of August, hatches of Mahogany Duns will begin to
occur. This hatch last for as long as two months depending on the elevation.
Also by the middle of August you should start seeing some Needle Stoneflies. These hatch
in fairly large numbers until as late as November, especially in the higher elevations. Many
anglers take them for caddisflies which they resemble in flight.
From the middle of May until the middle of November, a long period of time, you will find
hatches of Slate Drakes occurring. These mayflies hatch out of the water but never in large
quantities. Imitations of the nymphs and spinners can be important.
The Great Autumn Brown Sedges, start hatching at night by the first of October and last into
the first of December.
During the month of June, grasshoppers, beetles, ants and inch worms, all terrestrial
insects, become important food items for the trout. There are few hatches occurring, so most
anglers start using imitations of these terrestrials. The inch worms, or moth larvae, are
especially important due to the large numbers of them in the forest of the park.
In addition to the terrestrial and aquatic insects, theres a lot of other food for the trout. Small
Crawfish is one of those items. Another one is Sculpin. These small fish are abundant in
most of the stream. Imitations of them can be very effective. The Black Nose Dace is another
baitfish that is important. Streamers imitating these and other minnows work great especially
when the water is slightly off color.
I didn't mention it in the aquatic insect part above, but midges are abundant throughout the
park. They can be very important when the water is cold and nothing else is hatching.
Imitations of the larva and pupa will catch trout anytime of the year.
Craneflies are everywhere water exist in the park. The larva and adults are important insects
to imitate. Hellgrammites, or the larva stage of the Dobsonfly, is another abundant insect
that is in many of the park's streams.
We recommend our "Perfect Fly" imitations. They are the best, most effective flies you can
purchase and use anywhere trout exist. If you haven't already done so, you should give
them a chance to perform for you. You will be glad you did. We lived for three years just
over a mile from the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River. We have caught hundreds of
trout from this stream on our Perfect Flies.
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Middle Prong Little
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